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“Minnesota River partners seek to achieve more naturally functioning streams in the highly engineered landscape of the Minnesota River Basin".  07/20/2020

More naturally-functioning streams” is defined:

  • Physically as the stream flows, achieve the conditions of pool and riffles to move sediment and dissipate energy and where the flows in some reaches have intermittent access to their floodplain during higher flows. 

  •  Ecologically when plants, animals, fish, insects, and other aquatic life can interact with the channel, sequester nutrients, and move nutrients upstream or out of the stream. 

  •  economically when flows pose less risk to infrastructure, limit accumulation of sediments, and reduce long-term maintenance costs

  • recreationally when people feel safe to interact in and around the stream 

 

The Minnesota River Congress is advocating for more naturally functioning streams.  At the core of this strategy is the ability to store water on the landscape by multiple methods of land management.  This is a strategy to work with the forces of nature, not against them.  It is not about restoring the land or stream to pre-European settlement, but to acknowledge there is economic, social, and ecological wisdom in the trend in that direction.  As a state, we have not yet achieved a common direction, and so, we often propose policies and projects that are in opposition of one another.  It may be too optimistic to consider, but as the multiple of partners pursue water storage options, we should at least ask the question if it is a piece of the puzzle toward a more naturally-functioning stream channel or away from that concept.  If it is away from that concept, that may be fine, but those costs associated with moving away from the natural tendency of the stream should be fully transparent.  As every time we move away from a somewhat naturally functioning stream, it, by nature, gets more expensive to keep it that way.

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